There is no denying that the Toyota Camry is one of the most successful D segment vehicles in Malaysia. Based on Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) statistics for the month of October 2011 (sorry, try as I might, I couldn’t find a more up-to-date figure) shows there has been a total of 6,679 units finding new homes last year.  It outsells the 2nd most-sold D segment by 2,621 units ….the Honda Accord needs to improve their sales by another 65% if they hope to usurp Camry’s position as the leader in this segment. It’s quite understandable since the Camry offers a driving package that’s different from Accords, Teanas, Sonatas and Mazda 6s) …. comfort, reliability, durability, strong branding, easy to maintain and excellent resale value. Buying any other car in a traditional, stereotype chinese family may earn you scorn, pity and disgust, almost as if you’ve just been cheated your entire life’s saving in a Get-Rich-Scheme that has gone bust. So, to be SAFE (that is, from the criticism of family members), the next generation buys a Camry and the cycle continues on ….

Things are about to change with the introduction of this:

The new B7 Passat was launched in 19 October 2011 for RM184,888. Subsequently, the CKD version was introduced in 12 March 2012 for RM170,888. At this price scale, it’s cheaper than what other Japanese D segment contenders and definitely lower than the new 2012 Camry 2.5V spec model due to be launched soon with an asking price of RM183,000.

So what sort of package does the Passat offer?

Comfort? Check
Reliability? Check
Resale value? Unknown but seeing how VWs are pretty resilient against low RV, I’d say Check
Branding? I think most agree VW sits on a more premium bracket compared to Toyota. Check
Maintenance? Continental parts generally costs more but lasts longer than their Jap counterparts so it breaks-even. Check

So for the first time, you have a car that offers the space and all other practical and emotional baggage associated to buying a Camry. But that’s not all. Aside from being a continental car having Volkswagen DNA which means a far more rewarding driving experience, the Passat has a few additional features that trumps the Camry:

I recently went for a test drive with a friend who’s more than 6 feet in height. After adjusting the front driver seat, I still have at least 3 inches of rear legroom (and I’m not exactly short either). Camry, with its longer wheelbase may offer similar, if not better rear legroom, especially if Toyota designs the front seats to be thinner.

Rear aircon vents with A/C charger port …. my iPod/iPhone will never run out of juice

I love the headrest. The piece slides forward to offer a more comfortable driving position for different driving postures.

Even the rear cup holders slide out with style

As benefit of its class, it comes with Dual Zone climate control, an RCD510 touchscreen headunit and a classy analog clock below the aircon vents. Also with the Passat, you get one of the most advance gearbox to date: the DSG compared to a conventional 6 speed gearbox in the Camry (well, if it’s any consolation, at least they added 1 addtional gear from the earlier 2.4V model). Acceleration is smooth and you never feel the car running out of breath. The test drive took us on some B roads which allowed us to see how well it tackles corners and how linear is the acceleration. The inherent 1/2 second lag in the DSG is present though but compared to my Golf, I find it more manageable and quicker in engaging gears. Also, no juddering that’s related to engine misfiring when flooring the acceleration from standstill is experienced.

The handling is great, the suspension is fantastic. I was comfortably seated in the rear the first time around despite there being quite a few pot holes along the route we took. The stock suspension is soft and absorbs all the humps and bumps. Yet despite it being soft, body roll is very much contained and there’s something the continentals do about their steering that is far more communicative compared to Japs that makes you feel confident in taking corners at higher speeds. Top speed for the Passat is 220kph which is attainable with good stability. Try exceeding 190kph on a Camry and you’ll feel as though your car is flying off the road.


This is one area that has most buyers up in arms against Toyota. Despite the higher asking price, the Camry 2.5V will come with 4 of these:

The Passat gives you 6 and that curtain airbag picture above, that one that protects side window impact of your kids sitting at the back in the event of a collision is grossly absent.

What’s worse is Toyota took out Vehicle Stability Control, an important safety feature that was present in its 2.4V predecessor. VSC helps prevent wheelslip and loss of traction by reducing engine power and applying brake force to the wheels that need it. Without it, every puddle of water is a potential hazard. More info about how it works can be found in the following link:

Now, some may argue that sensible and safe driving habits ensures the VSC is never used. My argument is, an accident is an accident because it is unforeseen, unplanned. Aside from driving in the wet, a myriad of things that can happen in the car that may take your attention away from the road for a split second (such as your child suddenly screams demanding your attention) and there is a truck stopped right in front of you when you look forward again. The thing is, VSC or ESP or VSA or any form of stability control that increases your chances in avoiding or surviving an accident should never be omitted from a car, especially for a car with such a high asking price. No such issue with the Passat as it comes with an array of active and passive safety features such as Electronic Differential Lock, ABS, Engine Drag Torque Control and Traction Control System. I did a 100kph emergency brake and was very impressed with its braking capabilities. Usually in this situation, the front of the car dives severely and dip it did but in a very controlled manner and the stopping distance is impressively short. Everyone who tests cars should do this test, hopefully they would never need to do it but it’s good to know if it is required, what allowance you have in stopping the car.

Boot size is enormous. There is great depth and rear seats can be conveniently folded back by pulling the levers found on the boot top.

The Passat also comes with convenience features such as auto headlight, leaving-home and coming-home light, bi-xenon headlights with integrated DRL, dynamic headlight range and dynamic bending light, auto dimming driver side mirror and rear view mirror, rain sensors, rear fog control, dual zone auto climate control,

There are features that are missing when compared to other Volkswagen models such as electric folding side mirrors, kerb view left side mirror and full electric seats (one point for the Camry which gives full electric seats). It’s the absence of these minor conveniences that compromises the Passat’s luxuriousness a little.

At the end of the day, it only comes down to looks, which is highly subjective. The Passat’s look may not appeal to everyone (same goes for any car, for that matter) but to the business owner who wants to leave and arrive at his/her destination in style and creating an impression of who’s-the-boss, I think the Passat can fulfill this function just as well.

Here’s some spec comparison between the Camry and Passat:-

So really, what’s your excuse for buying the all new Camry when you’ve got the Passat?

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  1. April 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm — Reply

    IMHO…this Passat B7 does not really carry an image of an executive. I'd still put my money on a smaller C class or a 3 series (of course pricing is not apple to apple) This car is just too plain and does not really exude class. Interior wise I have no issues with it.

  2. April 12, 2012 at 5:26 pm — Reply

    Of course, bro thinkerr … but we're comparing cars costing below RM200k. At this price scale, one simply can't afford luxury brands unless 2nd hand/recon

  3. April 12, 2012 at 7:12 pm — Reply

    Agree bro…btw nicely done blog. Keep it up man!!

  4. Kyrel15
    May 17, 2012 at 11:12 am — Reply

    nice write-up….visited VW showroom last forthnight..they are having pre-registered unit promo…
    passat lowest price at rm 160k, cross touran rm 147k and jetta at rm 137K….

  5. May 17, 2012 at 5:12 pm — Reply

    Thanks for the compliment. Yeah, with all the pre-registered units around, the price has become even more competitive. There is 2 schools of thoughts with regards to buying (or not) a pre-reg unit and it mostly centers around how long the owner plans to keep it. If he intends to keep it for 5 years or longer, then he is likely to buy a new unit which has not been (likely) abused by testers (unless the pre-reg has zero or less than 100km mileage). If the buyer plans to change cars in 2-3 years, the huge pre-reg discount makes more sense to him/her. It all depends on how you see it.

  6. benthewen
    May 31, 2012 at 12:24 pm — Reply

    hi kenso, this is probably a silly question but how would you stack up passat vs the k5? i know the price is probably the major diff but if you were to put aside the pric diff, can the k5 stand up to passat? just wanted to know your opinion

    • June 1, 2012 at 9:05 am — Reply

      Hi benthewen,

      Between Passat and K5, I’d say I’d pick the Passat any time, barring the price difference. No matter what, a conti is a conti and the Europeans have some how perfected the art of unifying steering feel, suspension set-up, chassis rigidity as well as engine output to give a driving feel that’s unmatched by Asian cars. No doubt, the K5 is as close as any Asian car can be in matching a conti’s driving feel but still fall short in terms of the sheer driving exuberance of a conti, not to mention the branding advantage VW has over Kia.

      • benthewen
        June 1, 2012 at 4:49 pm — Reply

        thanks kenso, saw both cars just now and the difference in terms of cockpit ambience is very pronounced!!!

        • June 1, 2012 at 4:53 pm — Reply

          Well, design is pretty subjective and I’ve heard more than my fair share of people complaining about the Passat’s rather boring dashboard design. Personally, I find it classy and elegant but each person has his/her own opinion

  7. NAP250
    July 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm — Reply

    Hi Kenso,
    Love your bloc.
    I am a die hard supporter of Toyota and have been driving Corollas for years. My family now wons a Vios and Altis, and I have been waiting for the new Camry 2.5V. Unfortunately, it a big let down for all the reasons you mention above esp. the omission of the VSC and TRC despite the higher asking price. In addition, the design is getting a bit boring even for an ‘uncle’ like me. I am contemplating jumping ship and get the Passat instead. However, I have two pragmatic concerns. One is Passat’s reliability and the other cost of ownership and maintenance. Learnt that the DSG has serious problem worldwide so much so VM has recently issued a nicely worded “DSG Service Campaign” short or a total recall. Perhaps you can share your thoughts on these. I am close to retirement and would not like to spend my hard earned savings on a high maintainance car, even though I will have lots of time at the SC.

    • July 7, 2012 at 10:14 pm — Reply

      Hi NAP250. Personally, I’ve not heard of any issues pertaining to the Passat’s gearbox. Being an owner of a Golf TSi, I can attest to how the issue happens but in all the times when friends and I tested the Passat at various showrooms, the same conditions does not exist (in the Passat). And those who do update their GB firmware reports improvement in that the car does not judder anymore/as much as opposed to before.

      I don’t have the maintenance schedule and costing of both cars though so that’s probably something you need to check on your side.

  8. Kevin
    February 6, 2013 at 11:24 am — Reply

    Kenso…real good write up..i’ve heard alot of mechantronic problem on the DSG Gearbox for VW and also read from your blog…has this affected the Passat as well?
    Still contemplating between K5 and Passat as price wise very close due to the Pre-Reg Passat with O mileage…close to RM 20k discount!

  9. Omithofo
    March 3, 2013 at 3:16 pm — Reply

    20k discount? is it still valid?

    • March 3, 2013 at 3:21 pm — Reply

      I doubt it since the year has ended …. still, do note that different sales centres offers different discount structures so no harm shopping around.

  10. Omithofo
    March 4, 2013 at 9:41 am — Reply

    After review the comments from many VW users in the VW official facebook, decided to pull on hold.

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